Family Travel Tips ft. Mandi & Garrett of Connected Family Travel

This one is for the aspiring traveling families out there. In this episode we interview special guests Mandi and Garrett from Connected Family Travel on their best family travel tips. We talk all about travel hacking to use points and deals to afford family travel, tips for traveling with kids, insight on traveling internationally as a family of four, advice on using travel for your child’s development, and how traveling as a family helps bond and bring the family together. Mandi and Garrett also share how they’ve built a business around helping other families make travel possible.

Connect with Mandi and Garrett on Instagram @connectedfamilytravel or connectedfamilytravel.com

Family Travel Tips – Episode Transcript

1 (41s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast today we’re interviewing Mandi and Garrett from Connected Family Travel.

2 (1m 6s):
None of us have kids yet, but we often talk about what it would be like to travel with little ones. This episode was so good and it really prepared us for when that time comes. The episode of Mandi and Garrett is filled with so many insights, not only on parenting, but traveling with your kids and how to manage them and how to help them develop and grow through traveling throughout the country. In the world. I was actually really, really inspired by what they were saying. They also had a ton of good money saving hacks, which we totally love that apply to not only families, but individuals, couples, anybody. And I definitely took some takeaways away that I didn’t even know as a travel expert per se, myself.

2 (1m 50s):
And also, you guys are going to love this episode. Mandi and Garrett were so easy to talk to. They’re so interesting and they’re really making a difference and helping families get out there and travel. So I absolutely loved it

3 (1m 59s):
Beyond maintaining an active family lifestyle, Mandi and Garrett I’ve started a travel coaching business. Kim kinda touched upon that Sharon, with you that they provide a lot of travel hacks. So they teach travel newbies, all the insider tips and tricks to save money, to make travel super affordable. And I love that because I feel like that’s one of the main reasons why we started the podcast just as well as just really show people how easy it is and affordable can be if you know, the tips and tricks and their mission is to help families travel more often without putting that financial strain on that budget so that they can create lasting memories and strong connections with their kids. And I just love that. And like when the time comes when Brittany and I have kids, like it really inspired me because I want travel to be a big part of their life, just as well.

3 (2m 45s):
And with that, let’s welcome Mandi and Garrett to the Travel Squad Podcast.

2 (2m 52s):
All right, today we have Mandi and Garrett on the podcast with us. Thank you guys so much for coming on.

5 (2m 59s):
Yeah. You bet to wear a super happy to be here. You know, we’ve checked out your podcast too, and like what you guys do and glad that you were kind enough to have us on.

3 (3m 8s):
Well, thanks for being here. And I know you said you checked out our podcast, we’ve obviously senior guys at site blogs. So why don’t you give us a little bit of background about what you guys do in terms of travel and your business?

6 (3m 21s):
Yeah, so we are family travelers. We both have nine to five jobs. And so, you know, we tried to fit in travel where we could, you know, in, in the little nooks and crannies of our lives. And we noticed at some point that we just weren’t traveling. We got stuck and the mortgage and the car payment and all the things that, you know, we tend to get bogged down by. And we just kind of had this moment where we said, this is not what we want for our lives. How can we make this work? And Garrett bought a book for, I think it was like 20 bucks and just picked up this book and said, I need to learn how to travel for cheap because you know, our budget’s not going to let us do this.

6 (4m 0s):
And so we picked up this book, read through it all probably in a night, which is pretty crazy, cause he’s just not a reader and binged it all the way through and learned how to travel hack. And from there, it just kind of became an addiction for us, kind of a game that we just started to play over and over. And we took one trip and realized, oh my gosh, this is amazing. We can do this. We can travel for super cheap. And so one thing led to another and we drag our kids along with us as we, you know, fit those trips in where we can and where we get time off from work or, you know, or summer breaks and things like that. So did

1 (4m 39s):
You guys travel much before you guys had children?

6 (4m 41s):
We did. I grew up traveling a lot, Garrett, not as much, but we both had this passion and this drive to get out there and see the world when we were newly married, we took an amazing trip that put us in debt quite a bit, got, you know, a little bit embarrassed to say how much we spend on that trip. But at that time we had a lot of just money to just throw around. So it was fine. And pretty quickly we just got stuck in that, you know, bought a house. We were going to flip it right before the market changed. We had this grand idea and it was kind of got sucked into the whole mortgage thing. So

5 (5m 18s):
Yeah, we both have like a huge passion and desire to travel. You know, in the first year we were married, I think maybe a little bit past that we actually bought a timeshare like soon into our marriage because we knew we were going to travel and we made a kind of a deal with ourselves that we would leave the state at least once a year. And we did that, but you know, there was a period of time definitely where we’re like, we haven’t traveled internationally in a while. We didn’t really take any big vacations. So we had all that passion. We did travel for sure before the kids came, but that American dream lifestyle definitely set us back a little bit. So

3 (5m 53s):
I love what you guys are saying, because that really resonates with me. And if I’m speaking for everyone on the squad for all of us, because, you know, we have our nine to five just as well, but we have that wanderlust and sense of just desire to always be traveling as much as we can regardless of the situation. And I just want to let you know, we’re guilty just as well. We got a timeshare over here also. So I think it’s one of those things. People think it’s like a bad investment and maybe, but if somebody is a traveler and really uses it as the incentive to be like, well, all right, well now I have to do something that’s not a bad thing to have. Right. And I really, really love that.

5 (6m 29s):
Yeah, yeah. For sure. It got us to some places that we never thought we would be. We only used it a little bit. We kind of saved up, you know, over a couple of years to take bigger trips in between. And then we eventually got rid of it. And now we’re looking to try and invest in maybe being a Disney vacation club owners, you know, because we’ve been looking at like, what are the trips that we want to repeat? You know, we travel a lot with our kids, but we also took like the same yearly vacation year after year when we were growing up and our kids haven’t really ever had that. And so we’ve wanted to find something that’s like super consistent while also exploring the world and showing them new places and new experiences and that kind of thing too. So

2 (7m 9s):
I have a question for you, you mentioned in the beginning that you bought a book that inspired this new lifestyle, what was that book?

5 (7m 17s):
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with nomadic Matt, but it’s his, his book, the ultimate guide to travel hacking. And it was like so early in his journey that I actually emailed him like 15 corrections that he had to make to the book because he’d just kind of thrown it together. I mean, it was that early cause he still sells it. I mean, it’s still, still super successful. It was interesting too, because you know, we wanted to travel, but we weren’t necessarily seeking that out. We weren’t seeking the solutions necessarily, but obviously my subconscious was because it’s like the moment I came across that I was like, boom. And you know, never looked back since. So

2 (7m 56s):
It sounds like it kind of found its way to you.

5 (7m 58s):
Yeah. Yeah. I like to think so because it’s definitely a better way to look at it, for sure.

3 (8m 3s):
So you caught my attention when you said Disney vacation club owners, because Brittany and I over here are big Disney fiends and Disney fans. And we’ve never really looked into being the Disney vacation club owners or Lonnie or anything like that, but we’re all about the amusement parks. So I have to imagine it’s a family goal to hit all the Disney parks in the world with your children and where you add on that goal, because that excites me so much to hear.

6 (8m 32s):
So I actually worked at Disney world my early college years and did a college program down there. And it was pretty amazing. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, but I had never been to Disney world growing up. We went to Disney land. I don’t know, a few handful of times, but that was my first experience. So I moved, moved out of my parents’ house and into Disney world. And you know, it was a pretty cool experience to be around, you know, other college like-minded young adults. And so that was pretty cool. I think that started our journey into the Disney experience. But when we first got married, Garrett hated Disney and I had a lot of work to do to convert him over to the experience.

6 (9m 15s):
But we took our kids when they were really little, little enough that, you know, a lot of people would say, that’s just dumb. Don’t waste your money. They’re too young to remember. But the experience that we had was just amazing. And we started going back around Halloween because we loved dressing up and costuming is kind of a family thing that we’ve done forever. So it was really cool to have that experience there. You know, Disneyland and Disney world are really the only places we’ve checked off our list, but Garrett is obsessed with Paris. So that’s probably on our next trip and definitely Shanghai is on my list. So there’s some amazing rides there.

1 (9m 53s):
Yeah. Shanghai Disney is our favorite Disney land type park, but Paris definitely holds a special place in my heart. And the Ratatouille ride is so much fun. You guys are gonna love it. Yeah.

5 (10m 5s):
Yeah. We, we went to Disney world in February and like, it was just as they were taking a lot of the scrim and stuff down for the ride in Disney world, it was an anniversary trip. Like things were just lining up. It was so awesome. We like got to our gate for our flight and they bumped us into better seats. We got to our hotel and they let us check in early with a better room. Like everything was going so well. We were just expecting gratitude open while we were there. But we did miss out on that. But yeah, definitely Disneyland Paris. I’m not sure why we haven’t gone because we’ve been to Paris a few times as far as rides go that I want to ride pirates ride in Shanghai definitely has my attention.

3 (10m 46s):
So Brittany and I have been to all the Disney parks except for Hong Kong. And we were supposed to go in March of last year at the onset of COVID canceled and we are one park away with Hong Kong. But we specifically, as the squad did a guided tour to China that specifically had an additional free day in Shanghai so that we could do the Shanghai Disney park. And it is absolutely amazing Disney land. The original will always hold a special place because it’s native to my California. It’s the original one, but Shanghai Disneyland is really close to probably being the best one, quite honestly.

3 (11m 28s):
So when you guys get there, you’re going to love it.

5 (11m 30s):
Yeah. Yeah. We’re excited. So that’s, that’s cool that you guys have taken those experience.

1 (11m 35s):
How old are your guys’s kids?

5 (11m 37s):
So we have two boys. My oldest is 13 and then the younger one is 10 they’re both teenagers or acting like it on most days and makes me want to take more couples trips sometimes. But, but that’s actually why we love taking them because when we do, you can see the difference when we’re home. So we just did like a staycation over the weekend and we were going to take like a longer trip and go to Vegas or something like that. You know, kids love the pool, the hotel pools, that kind of thing. But we decided, you know, there was too many restrictions where we wanted to go. So we just took the money. We were going to spend on that. And we have like a local amusement park here called lagoon and bought season passes.

5 (12m 18s):
We figured that it would give them a lot more to do during the summer. So we took this staycation and since we’ve been home, you can just see the difference from how they were, you know, a week ago. And so it’s cool to see how much connection you can have with anyone that you travel with can certainly lead to fights as well. You know, we’ve had plenty of those and I’m sure as you guys have traveled, like as a squad, you know, there’s a lot of personality changes that you have to deal with in that situation. So kids amplify that for sure. But the connections made there’s, it’s invaluable and there’s no replacement for it in our opinion.

2 (12m 54s):
Yeah. We talk a lot about that. How travel can make you a better person, expand your horizons, everything from feeling more confident to humble. What are some of the ways you’ve seen your kids change or grow from travel?

6 (13m 7s):
Well, actually something that’s interesting. We have a tradition that we started when our kids turn 10, they get to choose their own destination and we do a solo trip. So they get to pick the parent that they want to go with. And, you know, we try not to have hard feelings about who they choose, right. But they pick the parent and we kind of brainstorm a destination with them and help them to kind of plan the trip themselves. So we guide them along the way. We don’t just give them carte blanche to do whatever they want, but we have this tradition that they get to do, you know, pretty much whatever they want within reason. And we find that when they come back, they’re just, I don’t know if they just feel like they’re more, they’re more themselves.

6 (13m 50s):
They know more who they are and the connection that they have with that parent is amazing. But even more than that, now the, they feel like they’re more a part of our family. We call our family a team and, you know, we have a lot of pictures on the wall of just, you know, experiences that we’ve had together. We let them help us choose what to put on the wall on that specific wall so that we can remember these memories that we’ve made together. And as they go through these experiences with us, they’re, they’re just changed their, I don’t even, I don’t know the word to like to put on it. They’re just different when they come back, they’re, they’re better. They’re more kind to each other, even if they didn’t go on the trip together, they’re, they’re more kind to each other.

6 (14m 33s):
And you know, we just seem to have a more cohesive unit when we travel. So it’s, it’s pretty amazing.

5 (14m 39s):
Yeah. And the pictures that she was talking about, so the area in the house, we call it our belonging wall and they’re very strategically picked pictures that we’ve put there, but that really is the word that we feel best describes it is that they feel like they belong. And for kids, you know, self-esteem issues, you know, we have to be more aware of our kids’ self esteem than I think we realize sometimes. And so when they know they have someone in their corner and they know they have someone who’s willing to let them take a trip and plan it and express themselves, you know, it just gives them kind of that internal balance, which then gives them confidence to kind of do more from there, which luckily also usually ends up meaning, you know, a little bit better behavior and more respect in the house.

5 (15m 23s):
And those kinds of things kind of follow from that. But yeah, confidence, belonging self-esteem are definitely the big things that we can see a substantial difference in. And not only right immediately after, but we see longstanding effects from that.

6 (15m 38s):
Yeah. You know, there’s a rooting in it that they know where they belong. They know where they can be grounded so that when they go out into the world, they can be more open and more free and more adventurous, you know, in some cases. But you know, it’s also that they know that somebody actually took a minute to spend some time with them. So, you know, in, in the day to day activities, our youngest is obsessed with Pokemon and Zelda and you know, some of these gaming things. And to be honest, it’s just not something I’m interested in. Now, if you give me Mario kart, I’m all over it, you know, and I’ll be everyone that, that I raised, I’m pretty competitive that way. But when we put ourselves in to their interests.

6 (16m 19s):
So, so our oldest son, when we did the trip with him, we did Southern California and we went to Lego land, which I’m obsessed with Lego, just as much as he is. So that was really fun for me to be able to do that with him. But then we also, he wanted to go see a battleship and it wasn’t something I was extremely interested in, but we went anyway and he knew that I took my entire day to spend with him. And on that specific interest that he had, and, you know, in our day-to-day lives, we don’t often stop to spend that dedicated time with them. And so when we can do that on a vacation, they just feel that much more a part of it they feel seen and heard and, you know, appreciate it. So, you know, it’s, it’s amazing the kind of changes that come about.

3 (17m 2s):
But as you’re saying, I just can’t help. But think like, that’s so beautiful because I know for us, even as adults, you know, those are the benefits that we know that we get from travel. But when you guys started traveling as a family, did you imagine that your kids would develop these attributes? Or did you even think that, or that wasn’t even on your forethought, you were probably just thinking, oh, I want to get away and do something, right?

5 (17m 23s):
Yeah. It really wasn’t on our radar. A lot of our desire to travel for ourselves has always been kind of that world citizen type of feel. And so we wanted to give our kids that. And so we wanted to take them with us and we, we felt a little selfish to be leaving them home all the time and be able to go see these places. And we did want to kind of buck the trend if you will, of, you know, kids not appreciating certain destinations. So we’d done a lot of reading, you know, of families who, you know, advocate that idea of it’s, it has nothing to do with the destination. It has everything to do with the time that you’re spending together and the connection that you’re making. So that was in our back of our mind. But, you know, we certainly didn’t have any, any idea of, of the fruits that would be born from, from us doing it.

5 (18m 6s):
Like I said, we just wanted to give them some experiences and some culture and, you know, let the world help teach them what it’s like to be a good person, that kind of thing.

1 (18m 15s):
Have your kids been traveling their entire lives or did you not travel with kids for awhile after you had them?

5 (18m 21s):
So we traveled definitely locally. You know, we didn’t take huge trips when they were little, mostly for financial reasons, but we did try and do as much as we could. So I mean, we did trips to Yellowstone. We took them to Disneyland. You know, we were always trying to at least leave the state at least once a year. So we were doing some of those things, but that definitely had more of this just typical family vacation feel to it, less intention behind it until, you know, we realized the kind of traveling we could do once we started using points and, and travel hacking and, you know, getting those rewards that brought more financial means for us to do more with them. And then, you know, it was just kind of a chain of events like holy cow, these are the things that we can do.

5 (19m 5s):
And so let’s do them like, let’s, let’s give them these experiences that we never had. You know, Mandy certainly more than me, but still even her experiences traveling as a kid pale in comparison to some of the things we’ve been able to provide for our kids as well.

2 (19m 19s):
I’m glad that we’re on the topic of using points to travel now because I’m so interested in this, every time I learn a travel hack, I’m like, how did I not know this already? I actually just learned that if you transfer your points from your credit card to the hotel or airline itself, that your points are more valuable. If you do that, like how did I not know that? So I’d love to hear some of your best point hacking tips. And if you have any specifically for families too.

5 (19m 47s):
Yeah. So that’s a good lead in, you know, what you just discovered. So our recent staycations, like a good example of that, a lot of the points we earn are in the chase family. So we have multiple chase cards that we’re using their ultimate rewards points on, but when we teach it, you know, we certainly, we don’t stick specifically to that. But, but yeah, one of the transfer partners is Hyatt and where we decided to take our staycation, the rooms, they were like $150 a night, but they were only 5,000 Hyatt points, which were able to transfer. So, you know, a lot of times people, when they’re getting value out of their points, they’re only getting about a penny per point is what people who aren’t really hacking still using points, but not really trying to hack the system.

5 (20m 31s):
That’s what they’re getting. And so in this case, we got about 3 cents per point. We got three times the value that most people do. So that’s like a really good example. But one thing that we, that we help teach people when it comes to families is actually the reverse trend from that. A lot of times you do get better value from your points when you’re transferring them to partners. But when families are going, you know, they’re looking to buy 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. You know, we live in Utah and teach a lot of people in Utah who have bigger families. And so sometimes that’s a lot of people. And so even when you’re transferring to partners, you’re getting better value out of your points. But one tip and trick that we focus on a lot is to actually utilize kind of in combination your points with travel sales, like fair sales and those lightening deals and stuff like that.

5 (21m 22s):
Because, you know, for instance, today from salt lake, there was a flight deal to Paris. Of course, I’ve got to mention Paris yet again, right? So the flights were like $540 or something. So I went around and played with those numbers and looked at some of the dates. And those were dates that I had previously been looking at like a month ago for the class that we were teaching. And those flights were normally like $1,500. And so when you use something like a chase Sapphire reserve, if you’re using Chase’s portal, you get one and a half times your value of points. And so if $540 flight with points, you can do that for about 35,000 points.

5 (22m 3s):
Whereas, you know, if I was to transfer my points to United or to Delta, you know, it would cost me 50, 60 or 70,000 points. So when I’m looking at trying to take that trip for my family, you know, I’m getting two trips for the price of one. And so in four families that were except really great. Cause you, you look at a lot of blogs or you read someone like the points guy, and a lot of people will say that that’s like the worst thing you can do with your points, you know, to pay through travel portals like that. And sometimes they’ll even shame you in Facebook groups and stuff like that for using your points that way. And I, I think it’s crazy because it’s like such a great resource when someone’s trying to book more than one or two tickets, you know, to be able to get a $1,500 flight for 30,000 points, it’s an incredible amount of value out of your points.

5 (22m 53s):
And so if you’re signing up for a signup bonus, you got a hundred thousand points, you can take three, almost four flights, whereas otherwise you might only get one and it’ll take you a lot longer to save those points. So, so that’s a big one that we push a lot when, when families are trying to maximize those points.

3 (23m 10s):
No, it’s definitely a good one, regardless of what the naysayers say. And we are Sapphire reserve people over here just as well at my reserve household. So I’m all about it. I love that card. We actually have an episode talking about best travel credit cards. And that was one of the ones that we do feature. I absolutely love it. It’s best value for your money. I think that you can get in terms of a travel credit card.

5 (23m 33s):
Yeah, yeah, for sure. It’s one, you know, we teach a lot of beginners and so a lot of beginners aren’t ready for like a steep annual fee. So we got to kind of warm them up to that. But honestly it really is pretty much the best product out there. Bar none as far as a good universal type of car to have your wallet. And the other perks of benefits are amazing too. And those sometimes are like things that people don’t really take much advantage of, you know, another good tip for traveling with your family. You know, most people don’t think of like going into a travel lounge or anything like that with your family. But we were going to Hawaii a couple of years ago and we were flying through Portland and the timing of our flights was pretty terrible. So we didn’t really have time to eat breakfast before our early flight.

5 (24m 15s):
But as we were going through Portland, you know, one of the perks of the Sapphire reserve is you also get priority pass, which is a lounge access type of membership. So you get that for free. And we found one of the restaurants in the airport that honored the priority pass. And so the credit amount was up to four people for $29. So we had $130 where the food and we’d maxed that out. So, I mean, we took a muffin and orange juice and we took stuff with us on the plane and we got every advantage out of that. So yeah, when it comes to travel hacking, and it is more than just the points and the miles and the dollars that you see there, we are able to eat breakfast for free and take some food on the plane.

5 (24m 58s):
And so there’s, there’s lots of other things like that too. And food is like a number one tip that you can ever give someone when they’re traveling with their kids is to make sure everyone stays fed. You know, I get hangry, but when the kids get hangry, then the whole trip can be ruined. So

3 (25m 16s):
I love how you said that because we have done the same thing going from gate to gate, not enough time for lounge and then really sticking it to them, getting our food from one of the restaurants out there. And sometimes it depends on the one I’ve seen it as high as like $35 for a credit. And so with Brittany, with me, then that makes it $70. I’m just like $70 worth of food. That’s great. And then we passed another one along the way to the gate. Another restaurant participate in, we were like, all right, well, we’ll take a lobster roll for on the plane this time. You’re speaking to me and I’m loving it right now.

5 (25m 52s):
Yeah, yeah. It, it, it’s just funny. You like, you sit there and wonder who’s paying for all of this, you know, and really the people paying for it are the people like paying their huge annual fee and never using it. I mean, that’s, that’s, who’s paying for hackers to still be able to take advantage of those things. And so, you know, sometimes I like worry about that, you know, teaching people how to use points and miles and stuff. Like I’m spoiling my own benefits by letting me more people in on the, on the gag, but that it really is like so cool for us. You know, when we are helping people, I get more thrill sometimes, you know, seeing other people, book trips, you know, people that, that couldn’t have until they learn some of the things we taught and just having even a small part in that is it’s thrilling.

5 (26m 38s):
And so it’s worth sort of the possibility of my points being a little devalued or some perk, not lasting as long as it was supposed to. So

3 (26m 47s):
Well, if they’re doing it with your advice, it’s rewarding just as well. So you have that sense of excitement from helping, but I want to back it up a little bit from the points and just kind of go back towards the family travel aspect a little bit. I know you said earlier on when the kids were born, a lot of it was just kind of timing some of it financial just as well. But when you guys made the decision that the traveling as a family was really going to be like a lifestyle at this point versus just, oh, it’s a vacation. What were you guys thinking in terms of, you know, is this going to be easy? Did you think it was because you were already starting to travel hack at that point?

3 (27m 27s):
Because I sometimes as a non-parent think to myself, I don’t even know how I can get a child without an ID on a plane. You know, what’s the rules for certain things like that, or taking children with me and then nap time. And, you know, maybe they weren’t that young at that point either. But a lot of people that I know that our parents always say it’s difficult. So help us dispel those rumors to those people right now.

6 (27m 54s):
Yeah. I think something to remember is it’s going to be difficult. I mean, you’re taking them out of their routine. You’re, you’re ruining nap time a little bit. If you’re anything like me, you have somewhat of a regimented system that works for you at home, you know? And so just acknowledging that it is going to be different. It is going to be hard the first time we took them internationally in Paris. I mean, that was kind of scary, you know, and there were a lot of things that we just were not quite sure how to handle it.

5 (28m 25s):
One of the things we didn’t know how to handle was the fact that we were on an overnight flight, we’d already kind of shifted our sleeping ahead of time. And then there’s our seven or eight year old watching movies with the in-flight entertainment. The whole time we landed at like eight o’clock in the kid had no sleep for the last 30 hours or something like that. So, so yeah, there, there are those things that you prepare for, and sometimes they don’t go as planned, but yeah,

6 (28m 50s):
We look over and as the plane starting to get ready to land and I look over and he’s finally asleep in the chair and I’m like, you’re in for it today. But, you know, just acknowledging that it is going to be tough. That’s like the first thing is just going to be tough, something we do for sleep to try and, you know, make sure that we’re all kind of on the same page with our sleep schedule. We follow a thing called jet lag rooster, and it’s essentially just adjusting for the time difference the time zone difference. So we will change our sleep patterns up to like a week in advance to get ourselves and our kids ready to wake up at a different time.

6 (29m 30s):
It’s crazy, especially when they’re in school and we have to put them to bed at like four or five o’clock in the afternoon. Sometimes, you know, we use melatonin when we have to just kind of whatever we to do to help them. But yeah, I mean, there’s just little things here and there that you can do that just help make the whole thing that much better. Really the biggest tip that I could give for traveling with kids is to realize that they’re not going to be on their best behavior ever. So you may take them to this super fancy restaurant in Paris and expect that they’re going to try all the foods that you want them to. And, and one of the kids will surprise you and eat.

6 (30m 11s):
He, he was like, oh, I’m going to eat the duck. That sounds great. And, and then the other one says, I want none of this make me some scrambled eggs. And like, you know, just understanding that it is just going to be different and just not to throw all the expectations out the window and just to, to have fun and just look at it with the opportunity that you get to have instead of, well, I wanted my day to look like this, or I’d outlined our itinerary to be this, this, and this scrap that pick one thing, focus on the one thing, enjoy the one thing. And if you get two more things in that day bonus, you had a great day, you know, and if you can only visit one place or the kids are having a bad day, go to the park, live like a local for the day and let the kids run around for a little while, just realize that your style of planning and of travel is going to be potentially completely different than your kids.

6 (31m 7s):
And you have to kind of make some adjustments, but once you do really, once you throw those expectations out the window, they’ll surprise you. They will surprise you right. And left by the things that they are capable of doing. We were really nervous about, well, I should say I, I get really anxious and nervous about lots of things. I was really nervous about the transportation and, you know, in Paris, what do we do in a subway system? What if they get lost? What if in the rush that they end up getting off at the wrong station and now we can’t find them, you know? And so we played a game before we left, we pulled up a map of the subway system and we started talking about how to get from here to here and what color line would we take if we needed to go to this station from this station?

6 (31m 52s):
And it just became a game with them. And it was a lot of fun. And once we got there, we were looking at the map on the, you know, on the wall of the training. And they would look at that and say, oh, we need two more stops. And then we’re where we need to be. And so we just involved them a lot with that planning and that fun to the point where if they did get lost, they probably could figure out to how to find some help at least. And how to say, this is where we’re staying off of this stop, you know, I need help kind of thing.

5 (32m 22s):
Yeah. And just to add to that, I think, you know, to get back to some of the root of your question about, you know, traveling when the kids are younger and Mandy mentioned it, one of the first steps really is just acknowledging that they’re not going to be like the world’s best travel companions. And once you kind of acknowledge that, then you can at least start to think about the adjustments that you’ll make. And so the real key tip, and this is something that we’ve learned from traveling with our kids, but now we employ that into all of our trips is just slowing down. You know, we are a go, go go type of couple. We want to see everything there is to see. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rick Steves. You know, he talks about the idea of always assume you’ll return.

5 (33m 3s):
And so once you kind of get over that idea of feeling like you’re going to miss out on something, then you just get to enjoy the time that you do have with your kids. Even if you only get to see one thing or two things that day and realize that the trip will be funner, if you’re all having fun and you see one thing, then if you’re all miserable and you see five things. And so, you know, just the idea of slowing down and then Mandi mentioned, you know, like going to a park. So as much as you can to kind of incorporate parts of their rhythm is always going to help at any age. So yeah, if your child sleeps in the middle of the day, you know, don’t plan a lunch date at some Paris cafe, like find a park, let them have their nap, go get your lunch, take a snack or something beforehand, so that you’re not starving, you know, while you’re sitting there.

5 (33m 49s):
But yeah, just, you know, understand that those ebbs and flows will come and then you can prepare for them. And then, you know, in our opinion, once you’ve prepared for it, then those crappy situations, those hangry fights and those kinds of things, you know, they’re very minimal and they don’t ruin things. For sure.

2 (34m 5s):
Those are all really good tips.

3 (34m 7s):
Yeah. I was going to say those are really good tips, really good advice. The is awesome. It’s going to be hard, but roll with the punches really, and you’ll get through it. And I like that cause that’s at the base of it. Really the truth.

5 (34m 17s):
Yeah. And the other thing too, is like, I think a lot of people, when they travel, they don’t realize that the environments you’re going in are a bunch of people just like you. So when I go to Paris with my kids, there are a lot of Parisians who have kids. You know, if my child got lost on the subway, there’s probably a mom that they could go to just like the park at home. And so moms and dads alike can get into this rhythm of what ifs and you know, that stops so many people from traveling with, or without kids are all the, what ifs. You know, if I go to some strange place, Thailand or Africa or somewhere that is so much less familiar, if you get wrapped up in the what ifs, you know, you won’t go.

5 (35m 1s):
And so it’s just about, you know, making the decision, realizing there’s, there’s things you’re going to have to figure out and doing as much reading and preparation as you can, to just be able to, to deal with the situations as best you can, but, you know, realize that you’re not alone when you travel. Even if it feels like you might be sometimes there’s people to help you. And there’s parents all over the world. And there are people who know how to use a phone and a map and all of these types of travel skills that we think if we don’t have those before we leave, then we can’t leave. And, you know, we don’t really get those skills until we go.

2 (35m 36s):
Yeah, those hold true. Not only for families, but people, everybody in general, that’s so true. But I think it’s amazing that you’re doing this specifically for families, because I feel like that is where the biggest barrier I hear from people is, is about kids. And even something like going to lunch with a friend, even in your own hometown, I hear those types of restrictions from my friend parents, but I know you have your website, Connected Family Travel. You mentioned to us off air, you’re starting your own podcast and you have a business where you’re helping families point hack. And I imagine sharing a lot of these tips you’ve learned as you’ve traveled as a family. So can you talk a little bit about that? Where did the idea come from?

2 (36m 17s):
If someone wanted to learn from you and start traveling with their family, what could they expect

5 (36m 23s):
To answer your first question? Like where it came from was, again, just once we realized what we could do, you know, that we’d kind of found a niche. Like I mentioned, you know, you read so many of these travel hacking blogs, and they’re not geared to families. They are geared to singles or couples with a little bit more disposable income. They’re not buying plane tickets. And so once we found a system that worked for us, you know, we just wanted to share it. And then originally,

6 (36m 49s):
And if I can interrupt, we had our friends and our families asking all the time, like, oh, sure, it must be nice to have all this kind of money to travel as much as you do. And you know, it must be nice. And there was a lot of negativity at first, but once we said, Hey, look, you can do this too. This is as easy as walking down the street and picking up a hundred dollar bill. It’s literally, you’re already walking down the street doing the thing. Why don’t you just pick up the money it’s already there. And, you know, once people started to look at it that it was something that they could do, it was totally doable. It was totally possible for them. They didn’t need to make six figures every year. They didn’t need to cross over into some invisible barrier that they thought was there.

6 (37m 32s):
Then people started asking, well, can you tell me here, let me take you to lunch and let me pick your brain. And, and you know, all of those, let me take you to lunch, turned into, okay, look, we need to like group this information together. You know, we didn’t create the plan. It wasn’t anything that’s not already out there. Sure. You know, there’s plenty of people writing about it and talking about it, but we definitely created something that worked for us and for families. And, you know, we grouped that into a concise course that we teach.

5 (38m 1s):
So to answer your second question about, you know, how people would learn from us, you know, we are definitely kind of regrouping and pushing towards utilizing a podcast as a way to teach people, you know, in a, in a free space and give them a ton of knowledge and information that way. So, you know, on our website, we will have a couple of places where there’s freebies on our blogs and things like that where people can get in touch, but, you know, social media is a great way to follow us. We’re always posting tips. They’re not only about points and travel hacking, but you know, other mindset issues and tips for traveling with kids. But yeah, the main thing that we’ve focused on so far is, is, you know, a paid course that really gives you an a to Z comprehensive learning.

5 (38m 43s):
So, you know, you’re learning how to get cards, which are the best cards. You know, things like Kim just mentioned with just barely discovering, you know, these transfer partners are one way to use your points. And so we cover all of that. So it’s been pretty comprehensive, but we also have realized that we’re leaving some people out when we do that. And so that’s why we wanted to create a podcast, help people fill the gaps and you know, when there’s questions and give them those little tips and stuff. So our social media is a great place to kind of get started following us and see what we’re about. We do have a guide that we just put together preparation for this, just kind of a, a step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip with your kids.

5 (39m 25s):
So how to have them help you plan. You know, cause again, planning is really at the base of having a successful trip with your kids is, you know, the more things you can prepare for and the more things they’re invested in, they have a hand in the planning, there are a lot more amenable to going to places that they may not seem interested in. So, so that guide is on our website as well. Connected Family Travel dot com forward sash kid plan, all one word kid plan. And so a great resource that you could pick up for those who are a little bit, you know, they want to get over that barrier of, I want to travel with my kids, but I don’t think I can, you know, that would be perfect for them. Just that extra little encouragement to plan and take that first trip with your kids.

2 (40m 7s):
That’s cool. I wish my family would have done that when I was growing up. Sounds so fun

5 (40m 12s):
For me too. Yeah. Yeah. My life of travel growing up was a Memorial day in Idaho falls. That was like the trip we took every year. And that was pretty much my life. And then all of a sudden I turned 18 and I went on my first flight and then I went on to my first international flight and then I went to Australia and lived there for two years, select this big, big push all at once. And that’s definitely where the, the travel bug came from. So once

2 (40m 39s):
It hits it sticks.

5 (40m 42s):
Yeah. Yeah. I can’t, can’t get rid of it. So

2 (40m 46s):
I want to ask with COVID, we’ve definitely scaled back our traveling out of necessity. I think everyone kind of had to, you mentioned staycation, but have you guys done any other trips lately or do you have anything exciting planned coming up?

5 (40m 59s):
Yeah, so we, we did an anniversary trip to Disney world in February and we definitely

6 (41m 5s):
Is it Disney world, but just fantastic. Highly recommended.

5 (41m 9s):
Yeah. We were, we were sitting in the hot tub with a whole bunch of people and they were, we were all talking about our kids and they were talking about their kids as though they were in the hotel or in the pool. And we’re like, no, our kids are at home and they’re like, you can do that. You can, you can go to Disney without your kids. And we’re like, yeah, we’re doing it. It’s great. So, and then we did like a little camping trip back in October, you know, the staycation close by. And then, like I said, we bought season passes to an amusement park for the summer just to make sure that we were doing something there’s still so much unknown and it’s hard to plan anything concrete right now to give yourself something to look forward to. But we do have a couple of other bigger trips this year.

6 (41m 51s):
We have Costa Rica and we’re coming up in June with some friends

5 (41m 55s):
And then the other trip we have planned in the end of summer. And oddly enough, this was supposed to be our ten-year-olds trip this year. But once he started discovering all the things that you could do in Alaska that he really wanted to do, he felt like he didn’t want to miss out on those experiences with all of us. So he’s like, I don’t want to just go with one of you. Let’s all go. So we’re going to go to Alaska in August and again, yeah, just everything we’ve been planning is just, you know, things will, our feel are pretty safe to do, but also feel pretty safe that we’re not going to get canceled on. And with that said, Costa Rica is looking a little iffy right now. So, but another great reason to have the chase Sapphire reserve, you know, I’ve got my trip protection in case things get canceled.

5 (42m 40s):
So,

6 (42m 41s):
And even though things are getting canceled, borders get closed. Again, things happen even though that is the potential that, you know, it’s out there. I think the fact that we have trips booked, it brings so much more hope of some kind of normal, some kind of something that we can look forward to. You know, everyone’s mental health has taken a hit, especially, you know, in our family anyway. And it’s something that we can say, okay, we’ve got this big thing coming up. We can plan it. We can look forward to it. We can be excited about the little things that we can do leading up to the trip that I think even if it’s canceled, we’ve had some kind of, I dunno, positive experience leading up to it.

6 (43m 22s):
So if it’s benefiting us in some way

1 (43m 25s):
And you’ll have an itinerary for when you are able to take that trip, if it does get canceled,

6 (43m 29s):
That’s true. Yeah,

5 (43m 30s):
Exactly. Just copy and paste the dates for a another time. And then

3 (43m 35s):
We have so many COVID backup trips that are ready to be taken now because we had backups to the backups to the back. So that’s how it goes. But I had two things that are just kind of really on my mind here. One, I’m curious to know with all of the travel hacking you do, what’s the least, you guys have ever paid for a vacation, like including everything, you know, flights hotel, and then are your trips with the family when you do it with the kids centered more around like nature national parks. I know you mentioned when you guys went to Europe. So I’m curious to know what more so your vacations entailed with the kids and types of things that you do.

5 (44m 13s):
Yeah. So I think we have a pretty good blend. You know, the kids do love to camp and we want to get them in natures much as we can because we see an improvement in them when they kind of ground themselves that way.

6 (44m 24s):
But don’t get the wrong impression. We’re not super outdoors. We’re not very adventurous. We’re not, you know, we’re trying to convince them that we need to do as a blind tour, but it’s a little bit much for them right now.

5 (44m 36s):
But yeah, we certainly do the museums too. So, you know, in Paris, you know, we didn’t do the lube and go see the Mona Lisa that would have bored them to tears. You know, when we were with them in Amsterdam, we went to the van Gogh museum, but because we kind of planned that, right. You know, we gave them opportunities to learn more about Vango and things like that. And so now it’s like our kid’s favorite artists and he remembers facts about Vango. And I mean, he was only six or seven when we went and he’s now 10 and he still remembers a ton of information from there. So yeah, we want to give them a blend. So we, we try and do that for sure. And then as far as cost, least we’ve ever spent on a trip, you know, on a big one, our Europe trip was actually pretty amazing because, you know, the way we were able to secure using points with flight deals and then using our points on Airbnbs and then, you know, you buy the museum pass, which still included some different museums that they were really intrigued by.

5 (45m 32s):
And so on that trip, we honestly probably only spent, I don’t have all the budget numbers in front of me, but we probably only spent somewhere between two and $3,000 for everything else for, you know, train, travel from Amsterdam to Paris, everything we ate, everything we did while we were there. I think we paid for some of our Airbnbs and use points for the other. And the crazy thing is, is we went to Disney world that same year and all of our hotel was pretty much taken care of, you know, with points. Plus we like totally took advantage of some timeshare opportunities and stayed in some great properties for free that way. And we spent like half, you know, taking the kids to Europe for 10 days to what we did taking the kids to Disney world for 10 days, even with some of those other discounts.

5 (46m 19s):
So

3 (46m 20s):
I was going to say family of four to Europe for, you know, two to three grand approximation, you can’t beat that. That’s

2 (46m 25s):
Amazing. That is so impressive.

6 (46m 28s):
Yeah. Well, and when you think about it too, I mean, a lot of the expenses, the big expenses are covered because of the point tacking. So now all you’re faced with are some extras. So, you know, some museum entrances and maybe a little bit higher price food that you wouldn’t normally eat, you know, you’re eating out, but really compared to what you’re dealing with at home every day, you still have to eat, you still do things on the weekends, you know, you still go out and do some fun things. So the expense is really not that much more to head out and have an adventure versus staying at home. So,

5 (47m 3s):
Yeah. And we talk about that a lot as people look at these big hefty costs and certainly, you know, you’re eating out more and you know, it costs more to eat when you’re traveling, but no one ever accounts for the fact that you’re gone from your home for a week, you didn’t have to grocery shop for a week. You know, there’s, there’s these other expenses that you would have been spending at home anyway, that when you kind of roll those into those travel budgets, you know, it brings the effective costs down and it helps with some of the sticker shock in some of those cases. And so definitely something else that we, that we talk about a lot.

2 (47m 34s):
It’s a very good point. So we have a fun little game we’d like to do with our guests where we just have a couple of rapid fire questions. Do you want to ask the both of you?

5 (47m 44s):
I guess I better take a quick drink of water, get these rapid fire questions.

2 (47m 48s):
Just three questions. So don’t be too scared.

5 (47m 51s):
All right, I’m ready. You ready? I’m

6 (47m 53s):
Good.

5 (47m 54s):
All right.

2 (47m 55s):
All right. First question is what is your dream vacation?

6 (47m 59s):
South Africa?

5 (48m 0s):
She’ll be happy in South Africa. So South Africa, Happy wife, happy life.

2 (48m 8s):
All right. Good. Good question. Number two. What is an embarrassing story or confession from a trip?

5 (48m 14s):
Oh man.

6 (48m 15s):
Well, we were in Florence. We’d been traveling for hours on end sleeping or not sleeping in a train car. And we finally arrived at Florence, but I had way over packed and we just had way too much luggage. I’m dragging all this stuff along the cobblestone streets finally. And he’s just walking super fast. I mean, he’s pretty tall. I’m pretty tall, but man, he just booking it and I finally just yell out, like I cannot handle this anymore. So we stopped the bags were on the corner of the street and we’re like full out yelling. Oh, you know, not fist fighting

5 (48m 52s):
Like a Walmart fight in the middle of a, of a great, beautiful Florentine street.

6 (48m 58s):
Plenty of people walking by going, what is going on? So,

3 (49m 2s):
And you gave all the Italians, the confirmation of the stereotypes of Americans, I guess.

6 (49m 8s):
Yeah.

5 (49m 9s):
Yeah. And that was like, we were young and yeah, it’s definitely embarrassing looking back on it, you know, at the time we were focused on each other, but yeah.

6 (49m 18s):
About a hundred things that we did wrong that all just compounded and I’d had it, so

5 (49m 23s):
Yeah.

3 (49m 23s):
And no judgment. I’m prone to a freak outs on trips from time to time. It’s just as

6 (49m 29s):
Probably hangry too. So yeah.

2 (49m 32s):
All right. And then last question is what is your best insider tip for travel hacking

5 (49m 39s):
Get started. Honestly, the more, the more we talk to people, the more we realized that the thing that’s hanging them up is just, they feel like they need to be perfect or have all the answers before they get started, or think they need the perfect card. But in reality, a wrong card getting you started is way better than no card at all. And so definitely that’s our best tip and insider tip, I think would actually be the one that I mentioned before is, you know, for families to be able to utilize combining flight deals with points can really get them to, to be traveling frequently to travel often because they can get enough points to do that.

3 (50m 17s):
I love it. Before we wrap things up, did you guys want to tell our listeners again where they can find you your social media website and everything like that? One more time?

5 (50m 27s):
Yeah. So on social media, pretty much everywhere. Facebook, Instagram is where we’re most active. So it’s at Connected Family Travel, our website, Connected Family, Travel dot com. And then for that guide that we mentioned, Connected Family, Travel dot com forward slash kid plan, all one word kid plan, a guide that’ll that’ll help you get started and remove at least one obstacle to, you know, somebody who’s maybe hesitating traveling with their family.

2 (50m 54s):
That’s great. We’ll definitely link all of those places in the show notes of the episode. This interview has been amazing. I’m so far off from traveling with kids, but it’s honestly been one of the best interviews I think we’ve done. So thank you guys, both for coming on. This is great.

5 (51m 9s):
Yeah. We’re super glad that you’ve had us. We’ve had a ton of fun as well. We could talk for an hour more. That’s kind of how we are. That’s why we need to do a podcast so that we can just get on and, you know, and start talking. So you guys have been great and we’ve, we’ve loved being here.

3 (51m 23s):
Thank you so much. Well, we loved having you just as well. And believe me, I feel like a lot of stuff that you’ve said has resonated with me in terms of like passion for travel, just doing it. It’s all mental mindset and the benefits you get of it. So we’re, we’re speaking to each other and also to our listeners and hopefully it resonates with them too. And I know it will.

2 (51m 42s):
All right, everyone, that’s all we have for you today. Thank you so much for tuning into our episode this week. Keep the adventures going with us by following us on Instagram and YouTube at Travel Squad Podcast. And if you’d like to be a guest on our show or have us on yours, please reach out to us. We’re accepting new guests right now.

3 (51m 58s):
And if you’ve found the information, this episode would be useful. Or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too. And as always guys, please subscribe, rate, and review our podcasts and tune in every Travel Tuesday for new episodes.

1 (52m 12s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for

3 (52m 16s):
You. Bye everybody. Bye.

keep the adventures going

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